A very rare and fine antique girl magician musical automaton, by Renou,
The sleight of hand Grand mistress...
When wound with the captive Renou key and start/stop rod pulled to actuate the mechanism, the cylinder musical movement providing a bright single air, starts to play. Symultaneously the girl standing at the conjuring table lifts the basket to reveal a yellow ball, she lowers the basket over the ball as her head lowers too, pauses for a moment and raises the basket and her head together to reveal that the ball has been replaced by a silver ball. This in turn, changes to a single dice, which changes to a silvered plate, then to finish, there appears just the table top with all objects disappeared. She continues with the trick repeated again and again until brought to a stop with actuation rod pushed shut.
The girl with a fine bisque head, the back stamped with M, penetrating blue glass eyes, finely painted lashes, eyebrows and lip rouge, a curly strawberry blonde wig. Her bisque hands clasping at coloured paper dressed basket finished with a posy of flowers.
The girl dressed fully in the original Renou clothes of white silk shirt with pink panel front, black velvet waistcoat with gold braid lapels and green glass bead union ties, a pink silk jacket with textured cream silk sleeves, lack cuffs. She has further green bead trails with clear glass drops to forearm and as single drops all the way around back of jacket and the hems of the open jacket back, blue breaches, cream stockings and pink silk shoes finished with white ribbons.
She stands at the circular conjuror's table with black velvet cover and deep gold tassel trim, on the rectangular dark velvet covered movement base, gold ribbon edging and baullé feet.
Patent Renou captive key and start/stop rod to back.
size - 17in. high, 5in. wide, 8in, deep - (43 x 12.5 x 20.5cm)
See a re-dressed example of this rare model illustrated in Automata - The Golden Age, C. Bailly, p. 195.
A very similar example was sold by Christies 10 years ago, although that particular example had a cracked bisque head see link below:
Point of Interest -
Renou are never to be underestimated. They may have had the forethought towards the end of the 19th century to concentrate on smaller automatons, in reply to the growing popularity of middle-class clients, but their movement designs and more importantly movement capabilities, was and still is on-par with the larger and generously measured examples made by the other well-known makers, such as Vichy, Phalibois and Lambert. In many ways, a fully originally presented and operative musical automaton by Renou is rarer than these others.
The action has to be timed to lift with the change of object sited under the basket. The seamless change from one piece to another really cannot be detected and the magic is certainly alive when one realises all the action to make this possible is executed through the hollowed legs of the girl and the small turned ebonised support of the conjuror's table.
Renou's most famous disappearing, re-appearing object automaton is probably the Puppet Theatre. This conjuror uses the same mechanism as that one but is also one of the rarest piece made by this family business.
An extraordinary survivor.